The Platters, First Vocal Group to Reach No. 1 On the Billboards Hot 100

Written by Jae Jones

[brid video=”14146″ player=”3329″ title=” Only You (And You Alone) (Original Footage HD)”]

The were one of the most successful vocal groups of the early rock and roll era. Their sound was that of pre-rock Tin Pan Alley tradition and the burgeoning new genre. The first act of the rock era to reach number one on the pop chart, the Platters helped to break the monopoly that the white acts had on covers of some very good R&B songs. The group had 40 singles to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 with four of their songs hit no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.


The group formed in Los Angeles and were managed by Ralph Bass. The original group consisted of Alex Hodge, Cornell Gunter, Joe Jefferson, Herb Reed, and David Lynch. Later Zola Taylor joined the group and Alex Hodge was replaced with Paul Robi.

Under Ram’s guidance, the Platters recorded eight songs for Federal in the R&B/gospel style, scoring a few minor regional hits on the West Coast, and backed Williams’ sister, Linda Hayes. One song recorded during their Federal tenure, “Only You (And You Alone)”, originally written by Ram, for the Ink Spots, was deemed not releasable by the label, though copies of this early version do exist.


“The Platters also differed from most other groups of the era because Ram had the group incorporated in 1956. Each member of the group received a 20% share in the stock, full royalties, and their Social Security was paid. As group members left one by one, Ram and his business partner, Jean Bennett, bought their stock, which they claimed gave them ownership of the “Platters” name. A court later ruled, however, that “FPI was a sham used by Mr. Ram to obtain ownership in the name ‘Platters’, and FPI’s issuance of stock to the group members was ‘illegal and void’ because it violated California corporate securities law.”

Other competing groups began to appear, including one led by Herb Reed. A profusion of legal challenges ensued among the many groups of Platters. Lawsuits were filed and injunctions were issued. The Platters’ final top forty song, With This Ring, left the charts in 1967. David Lynch and Paul Robi both died of cancer, in 1981 and 1989, Buck Ram died at the age of 83. The group was great during their time, however, they could have been greater if disagreements and lawsuits had not gotten in their way. Read more



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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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